Issaquah Council Chambers. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Issaquah Council Chambers. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

City of Issaquah seeks new council member

The city of Issaquah is currently accepting applications for a candidate to fill City Council Position 3.

The council unanimously approved the timeline and process for the appointment of the new council member at its Nov. 20 meeting. Council members collaborated on interview questions to ask applicants.

Attorney Justin Walsh was elected to fill the position in November’s general election after running unopposed for the seat. Current Councilmember Eileen Barber is vacating the position, which she has held for four years.

During the campaign, Walsh moved outside of Issaquah city limits to North Bend, rendering him ineligible to hold a city government position. He called the decision “heart-wrenching.”

“I’m very sad that I won’t be able to assume that seat and help out the city that I love,” he said.

Walsh explained that he found his new house Sept. 10 and closed Oct. 19, two dates that are after the window in which a candidate can withdraw from the election.

According to state law, the position cannot be filled until it becomes vacant, which will occur on Jan. 1, 2018. The council then has 90 days to fill the position, or the task will be designated to King County.

Ironically, Walsh said that a major factor in his decision to move was Issaquah’s lack of affordable housing — one of the most pressing topics at council meetings and one that he said he would have worked to resolve.

“Unfortunately the housing prices in Issaquah are not what I could afford,” Walsh said. He observed that it’s a “sign of the times when an attorney cannot afford the housing prices in the town in which he works.”

Walsh still plans to maintain his law firm in Issaquah and “stay active in the region.”

The newly-appointed council member will serve through the November 2019 general election. The person elected to the seat in that election will fill out the remaining two years of the term.

To qualify, a candidate must be 18, a registered voter and a resident of the city for at least a year. Applications, which will be available online, must be submitted by 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

Candidates will be interviewed at the Jan. 16, 2018 council meeting, and the council will vote to fill the vacancy at the Feb. 5 meeting. A meet-and-greet between candidates and the community will be held on Jan. 23 at City Hall.

Councilmember Mariah Bettise was not present for the vote.

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